Tuesday, December 18, 2007

My life, Arab Movie : Boycott and Normalization

Since the Camp David Agreements in 1978, “normalization” means in Arabic the refusal by most of Arab artists and intellectuals of any activity in connection with Israelis.

“Normalization” may be enforced by law according to the regulations of professional associations as in Egypt where the Artists syndicate has recently decided to clear actor ‘Amr Waked of all charges after his contribution to a movie about Saddam Hussein’s where an Israeli actor was also performing.

“Normalization” always raised problems, especially with Arab Israelis unable to meet other Arab because of their “wrong” passport. On the other side, Arabs artists who visit Palestinians, even in the Occupied Territories, face trouble. It was the case recently with a Tunisian singer, although he was invited by the major Palestinian phone society.

Last October, the organizers of the first Middle East International Film Festival of Abu Dhabi also had to cope with normalization. First, they were supposed, according to some Israelis newspapers, to put an Israeli film, called The Band’s Visit, in their program. Under the threat of a boycott by many Arab professionals, they denied such an intention although it is known that pressure for the selection of that movie has been put on them, as on other Arab film festival organizers.

Later on, an Egyptian documentary, called Salata Baladi (Mixed Salad), also raised the issue of normalization. The film is based on the real story of an Egyptian family, from a “mixed” religious origin (Christian, Jew and Muslim). The family is split between various countries, especially since a part of it went to Israel in 1946, something Mary, a leftist activist and grant mother of the movie maker, Nadia Kamel, never accepted. But the old lady finally accepts to brake the taboo of “normalization” and goes to Israel in order to visit her “lost” family.

Salata Baladi has been seen, by some Arab viewers, as an unacceptable call for “normalization” unless the film is obviously anything but a “black and white” story.

What happened to Salata Baladi – even if the film was defended by many voices in the Arab world – reminds us of the reactions provoqued by the short visit, back to Haifa, that Palestinian poet Mahmud Darwish made last summer.

Obviously, normalization remains a controversial issue, and a painful one.

To read the original and more detailed post in french
And that link for the blog on Salata Baladi film (arabic and english)

No comments: